Defiant Canadian oil industry produces record 4 million bpd – by Yadullah Hussain (National Post – March 14, 2013)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Canada’s defiant oil industry shrugged off criticism as it cranked up production to four million barrels per day last December – its highest ever output, according to the International Energy Agency. “Canadian oil production has increased rapidly over the last several months, reaching an all-time high of 4.1 mbpd in December on the back of a record one million bpd in synthetic crude output from surface mining operations,” the IEA said in a report published Wednesday.

Growth was not restricted to the oil sands. Alberta light and medium output also rose to 440,000 bpd, its highest level in a decade, on the back of new light tight oil developments in Cardium and Viking in Alberta, along with other plays in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, the IEA said.

Canada’s eastern offshore production stood at around 250,000 bpd in December. The record ramp-up in production came as some of the oil sands’ biggest critics expressed hope that the U.S. rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline would slow down heavy crude production in Alberta.

“The markets are relentless and will continue to search for ways to move that product into the United States, whether Keystone XL is approved or not,” Jim Prentice, vice-chairman of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, told the Financial Post from New York where he gave a speech on the pipeline’s role in North America’s quest for continental energy security.

The U.S. State Department issued an environmental assessment on the Alberta-Gulf Coast project on March 1 and is in the midst of a 45-day public review. A decision on the project could come any time after that.

“The project is in the national interest of both Canada and the United States… I think it’s a mistake to exile the oil sands from the resource bounty that we have as North Americans, and attempting to extricate it from the North American marketplace… is impractical,” Mr. Prentice said.

With North American oil pipelines clogged and Northern Gateway project stuck in the review phase, railways have come to the rescue.

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